Focus on the Entrepreneur: Oberstadt Landscapes
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A Growing Success
When the recession hit, Jerry Oberstadt turned to FVTC’s Venture Center for help.
“As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to find a resource you can really count on,” states Jerry Oberstadt, president of Oberstadt Landscapes in Fremont. “That’s why I consider the e-seed™ and Pro-Seed™ programs at Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center to be such good investments.”
Part of the Business and Industry Services division at FVTC, the Venture Center provides professional development training programs for entrepreneurs on a fee-for-service basis. “Our goal is to boost entrepreneurship and build area business to expand employment,” states Venture Center director Amy Pietsch.
Oberstadt Landscapes is a great example of how the Venture Center helps area businesses. “Jerry first went through our e-seed™ program for help in developing management and planning tools,” Pietsch says. “He then registered for Pro-Seed™, a blended program in which students work individually through online modules, and then meet with a personal coach on a weekly basis for one-on-one sessions.”
When the recession hit in 2009, Oberstadt’s clients began cutting back on projects. “My revenue was decreasing and my expenses were increasing,” recalls Oberstadt. “I then looked to the Venture Center to help me rethink my business strategies.”
With the help of the Venture Center, Oberstadt was able to identify his strengths and his weaknesses. “The center’s resources gave me tools that I could apply immediately to my business,” remembers Oberstadt. “For example, my coach helped me boost my financial management skills, which had an immediate impact on how I handled the business on a daily basis.”
Oberstadt also learned that he needed to delegate more. “I now put more trust in my team members by bringing them into new projects sooner so they can work effectively without me,” he says. “I am now the manager of the entire business rather than just the lead designer. I still get involved in design work, but I am finding fulfillment in helping different team members do their jobs well.”
Business has been very good for Oberstadt Landscapes. “Our revenue increased twenty percent in 2011,” Oberstadt says. “When people ask me about the Venture Center, I think that says it all.”
Helping small business every step of the way
Launched in 2005, The Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College has served more than 1,000 professionals, helped launch and/or expand 300 businesses, which in turn created more than 1,000 new jobs.
In addition to the success of new business start-ups, existing small business owners are increasingly finding that the Venture Center is their lifelong partner in improving or expanding operations as well. “We offer customized blended programs, monthly guest speakers, and one-on-one coaching,” says Amy Pietsch, director of the Venture Center.
Pietsch says she’s proud of how the Venture Center has emerged as an invaluable network of business professionals. “Basically, every client who has worked with the Venture Center stays with us throughout his or her journey. Some provide expert counsel to aspiring entrepreneurs, others look to us for additional resources and training, and some help by simply letting people know that business ownership is very doable!”